Foes plan 'puke-in' to protest San Francisco Dolores Park food vendor 

Dolores Park, the laid-back rolling knoll deemed a sacred space by many Missionites, is poised for a fight — over a taco truck.

Or, maybe not. This Saturday will be the test of whether park patrons will accept a controversial plan for new food vendors that has been the bane of "Chicken John" Rinaldi’s existence. The showman and onetime San Francisco mayoral candidate is planning a "puke-in" Saturday to protest what he has dubbed the commercialization of public space.

Early reports of the puke-in made it sound like Rinaldi would literally vomit on the vendor or their food trailer, which is set to make its debut near the park’s playground this weekend. But since then he has said it will actually be more like fake vomit strewn on a cardboard box meant to look like a food cart. In preparation, he said he has shelled out $750 for 1,000 square feet of rubber regurgitate.

"It’s the largest collection of novelty vomit ever," Rinaldi said, adding that he has collected 1,800 signatures on three petitions opposing the vendors. "It’s an investment."

The potential conflict Saturday follows a similar spat last fall. Oakland-based Blue Bottle Coffee eventually dropped its permit to operate in the park after a hostile reception that included threats of protesters spitting in its direction.

At the heart of the fight is whether The City’s Recreation and Park Department went through the proper public notice procedures, which officials say they did. Vendors, already a mainstay in Golden Gate Park and the Civic Center, can apply for permits to sell their wares, then Rec and Park determines the appropriateness and demand on a case-by-case basis.

Nick Kinsey, Rec and Park’s assistant director of property and concessions management, said there are currently no plans to approve more vendor permits for Dolores Park and there is a clear demand for food. He said money generated by the food stand could help clean up trash, the agency’s No. 1 cost there.

Caleb Zigris, the executive director of La Cocina — the Mission district nonprofit that’s backing the new vendor — said he can’t understand why the masses would be against an independently run business that will simply be parked on pavement selling organic food. If anything, it should be wildly successful in its opening weekend.

"If we see any surge in business, I think it’s going to be in reaction to Chicken John," Zigris said.

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

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